When Phil Mickelson committed to this year’s Charles Schwab Challenge, it was prior to the PGA Championship. Colonial officials were thrilled, of course, and they saw a bump in ticket sales with one of golf’s top names joining the field.
Then Mickelson shocked everyone by becoming the oldest major champion, winning the PGA Championship at age 50 on Sunday. Nobody would have blamed Mickelson if he bailed on his commitment to play this week at Colonial.
“We were worried,” tournament director Michael Tothe said. “But then he confirmed he was going to play on TV afterward and we’ve seen another nice little bump [in ticket sales].”
For his part, Mickelson said the idea of taking the week off and enjoying his historic win never crossed his mind. This is a tournament he’s won twice in 2000 and 2008 and, heck, he’s playing as well as anyone right now.
Asked if he considered backing out of playing this week, Mickelson said: “It didn’t cross my mind because I’d been looking forward to coming back and playing here. I’ve been wanting to play here. I feel like now that I’m playing well, gosh, I want to play. It never crossed my mind not to play. I’m excited to be here.”
Mickelson will be playing in his 17th Colonial. As stated, he’s won twice and also finished runner-up in 2001.
Mickelson feels the course suits his game, too, with a premium on iron shots. Even though he hit a 360-yard drive during the PGA Championship’s final round, Colonial isn’t a course players can “overpower.”
“I don’t feel like I can overpower the golf course because of the penalty for being off line with the trees and so forth and the rough,” Mickelson said. “That’s one of the reasons why I like the golf course because iron play is so important and that seems to be the strength of my game. So if I can get the ball in play and I don’t have to hit a lot of drivers to get the ball in play it allows me to hit approaches and make some birdies.”
Along with feeling as though he can contend for the win this week, Mickelson likes his pairing for the opening rounds with 2016 Colonial winner Jordan Spieth and defending champion Daniel Berger. The group tees off No. 10 at 8:16 a.m. Thursday and No. 1 at 1:06 p.m. Friday.
That pairing is the must-see given Mickelson’s stature right now.
As Colonial tournament committee chairman Jim Whitten said, “He’s the hottest name in golf right now. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he pulled out on Sunday night, but it’s great to have him in the field.”
Berger has the chance to do something only Ben Hogan has done at Colonial — win the tournament in consecutive years.
Hogan accomplished the feat twice in 1946-47 and again in 1952-53.
Mickelson came close in 2001, losing by two shots to Sergio Garcia. Spieth gave it a run in 2017, but fell one shot back of winner Kevin Kisner.
Kevin Na, who won the 2019 tournament, failed to make the cut in last year’s event.
Homes for wounded warriors
The Colonial continued its tradition of presenting mortgage-free houses to combat-wounded soldiers. The tournament has been doing so since 2011 and this year marked the 20th and 21st homes provided.
The recipients were former Army sergeant Summer Moore of Monee, Illinois and former Army staff sergeant Richard Sandmeier of Whitwell, Tennessee.